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CDC: Nearly Half of Premature Deaths Are Preventable

Best LifeThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 900,000 Americans die prematurely each year from the five leading causes of death.  However, a new study shows that 20 to 40 percent of the deaths from each cause are preventable.

The report appears in this week’s issue of CDC’s journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.  In it, the researchers analyze premature deaths – that is deaths occurring before the age of 80 – for each state between 2008 and 2010.

Five top causes of deaths in the United States are:

  • 91,757 from heart disease
  • 84,443 from cancer
  • 36,836 from accidental injuries
  • 28,831 from chronic lower respiratory diseases
  • 16,973 from strokes

Altogether, they account for 63 percent of all deaths in the country in 2010, with rates for each cause varying largely from state to state.

“As a doctor, it is heartbreaking to lose just one patient to a preventable disease or injury – and it is that much more poignant as the director of the nation’s public health agency to know that far more than a hundred thousand deaths each year are preventable,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director. “With programs such as the CDC’s Million Hearts initiative, we are working hard to prevent many of these premature deaths.”

The CDC researchers noted several major lifestyle factors behind these premature deaths. They said risk of heart disease can be greatly reduced by cutting tobacco use, maintaining a healthy diet, staying physically active, as well as monitoring health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Deaths from unintentional injuries could have also been prevented by wearing a seat belt in a vehicle or a helmet when riding a motorcycle.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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